Here we continue to lay the ground work for understanding the genre - apocalyptic - the book was written in.
Then we unpack the first three verses of chapter 1 setting the stage for what comes next.

Helpful Things to Remember Before we Start

Apocalyptic literature - subversive in nature

Goes beyond intellect - touches the emotions and imaginations (in the only way a great piece of art can!)

It is an unveiling, disclosing, taking lid off the box - shows what's going on behind the scenes.
Eph 6:12 We rub against people, have to contend with real issues BUT our struggle is not against flesh and blood - it is against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Revelation shows us things are not as they seem!
It allows us to peer into the present battle in the heavenlies.
There is an unseen which is just as real as the here and now.

Apocalyptic literature uses symbols and images.

Need to understand the symbolism and history - each image defines more than the image itself.

Jesus walking amongst lampstands - he walks amongst the churches (defined in Revelation)
He has eyes of fire - he sees everything - he knows, he knows, he knows
Other symbols are defined elsewhere in the other 62 books of the Bible
Sword coming out of Jesus mouth - he is the word of God

No direct quotes from the Old Testament - that would be incosistent the the genre of Apocalyptic literature.
Need a working knowledge of the Bible in order to grapple with Revelation.

Apocalyptic literature uses numbers to represent something grander / fuller

Need to consider numbers symbolically first unless the context suggests otherwise.

3, 7, 10, 12 and multiples speak of wholeness, completeness, divinity
7 - creation good, 10 - commandments, 3- divinity, 6 - man, 12 - tribes of Israel, apostles

Consider this modern idiom "if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times".
Rev 21 The New Jerusalem - complete, perfect, divine, beautiful, wondrous (not exact physical cube - not large enough for everyone!).
Rev 14 The 144,000  === 12 * 12 * 10 * 10 * 10 Church complete, perfect, whole together with the tribes of Israel
Rev 13 The 666 === perfect embodiment of evil

Apocalyptic literature not to be read chronologically

Revelation has a beginning and an end, but does not go A B C ... Z.
Jewish literature, in general, is not always chronological (e.g. Gen 1,2,3 and the Gospels).
Revelation 12 lays out events which predates the coming of Jesus.

Ask the question - what does John see next? Better than asking - what happens next?
Is the scene repeating itself with new information, changed perspectives, twists of plot?

Ps 91 God does not have wings, but he does desire to care for and comfort us.
Nursery rhymes - bears do not sleep in beds! We understand how to interpret it correctly.

Unique things about Revelation which make it stand apart

The book is a letter written to 7 churches.
Letter written to real churches, in real places, living at a time of horrific brutal oppression and tyrannical rulership.
Letter written to a group fearful for their lives, being harassed, losing businesses.
Church persecuted for not declaring "Caesar is Lord". How would I stand in that?
Revelation must be interpreted in the light of that historical setting.

The book is a letter written to all churches at all times.
A letter of encouragement to be faithful at all times for God is on the throne.
Jesus is Lord - despite 'apparent evidence' to the contrary!
It is a book which shows us the dragon has been cast down.
Helps us to stand fast and not deny because we have the victory.
Are our lives marked by the beast or Jesus? (marks - what we do / what we think).

The book is prophecy.
Biblical prophecy almost always focuses on the near rather than the distant future.
Prophecy does not focus on prediction - it focuses on declaration.
The heart of prophecy is not 'look what is coming', rather it is 'thus says the Lord'.
A word from God into present situation against backdrop of future certain judgement & salvation.

The book is not always clear
Keep the main thing the main thing - don't go down rabbit trails.
It is a book of encouragement to remain faithful.

Common Approaches

It is all about the past, it is an allegory, it is a timeline, it is all to come (e.g. rapture at chapter 3).
Each approach contains things which can be helpful - but none without fault.

This series (and myself) tries not hold to any specifically - and does not encourage those approaches.

This series aims to show that how the book of Revelation addresses the circumstances of its original recipients serves as a prefigurement to what every generation of Jesus' followers encounter thereafter. It is a book which tears off the veil from the here and allows us to peer into the heavenlies. It is a book written from the perspective of God's eyes.


Rev 1:1

Is it from Jesus or about Jesus?
It is from Jesus and about Jesus.
It is for every follower of Jesus.

Jesus gave message to John by an angel - characteristic of Apocalyptic literature

About things soon to take place - also v3 the time is near.
Controversy - what do we do with 'soon' and 'near'?
Keep in mind that this is a letter - nearness of time refers to the period the 7 churches are in.
The words 'soon' and 'near' allow us to read Revelation in the same way the original recipients read it.
See Mk 1:15 Time fulfilled, Kingdom of God near.
The time is near because Jesus is near.
Rev 1:7 Behold, see - the 2 most frequent commands in Revelation
He is coming - not he will come, but he is - the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
Light shining in darkness.
When morning star appears it is still dark, but the day is dawning!

Rev 1:2

John wrote down what he heard and saw.
This connection between writing and hearing / seeing occurs a number of times in the book.

Rev 1:3

Two blessings for those who hear, read, keep for the time is near.

Rev 1:5

Allusion to Psalm 89.
John is portraying Jesus as the prophesied see of David.

Christ is already ruling over the the kings of the earth.

The Lion of Judah has conquered by laying down his life, as a lamb (Revelation 5:5-6).

Rev 1:6

The church is the place through which the kingdom power of God operates.
This gives us both a high calling and incredible responsibility.
God has sovereignly limited himself to operate through us, the church, an imperfect vehicle composed of imperfect people, yet chosen by God.

Rev 1:8

God rules over the beginning, the end and everything in between. On of the consistent messages of Revelation is the assurance that God is ruling over all, regardless of present circumstances or apparent evidence to the contrary. In all things God works for the good of those who love him, sho have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Jesus declares his divinity by the use of a similar phrase in Revelation 1:18.

Rev 1:4-8

Don't be afraid, don't be scared. If we live faithfully for Jesus the time is near.
All of us have tribulation - minor troubles (life?) for some, constant persecution for most.

But peel back the layers and see the unseen.

Father God, give us eyes to see the unseen.
We don't have to be afraid, we are in his hands, we are overcomers.

Further Reading

Luke 11:27-28
Blessed are those who hear and obey the word of God

Zechariah 4:2-9 Revelation 3:1. 4:5, 5:6
Seven lampstands, seven spirits of God

Daniel 7:13-14
Everlasting dominion, Kingdom will never be destroyed

Zechariah 12:10
Pour out spirit of grace and supplication

Revelation 21:6, 22:13
I AM - the Alpha & Omega, Beginning and End